Dragon Released for Pacific Splashdown

Dragon is released
Dragon is released and begins its departure while the station is in orbital night. Credit: NASA TV

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was released from the International Space Station’s robotic arm at 7:04 a.m. EDT. The capsule will begin a series of departure burns and maneuvers to move beyond the 656-foot (200-meter) “keep out sphere” around the station and begin its return trip to Earth. The capsule is currently scheduled to splashdown in the Pacific Ocean at 12:42 p.m., about 155 miles southwest of Long Beach, California.

NASA TV Provides Live Coverage of SpaceX Dragon Departure

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft
ISS043E122200 (04/17/2015) — The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft approaches the International Space Station Apr. 17th, 2015 after launching three days earlier from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida. It carries some 2 tons of science experiments, equipment, and supplies for the Expedition 43 team onboard the station.

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the departure of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from the International Space Station beginning at 6:45 a.m. EDT. Dragon was detached from the Earth-facing side of the station’s Harmony module earlier this morning. Mission control will maneuver Dragon into place then turn it over to Expedition 43 robotic arm operator Scott Kelly of NASA for release, scheduled for approximately 7:04 a.m.

The Dragon arrived to the space station April 17 after an April 14 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying over 4,300 pounds of supplies and elements to support about 40 of more than 250 scientific investigations the crew members of Expeditions 43 and 44 will conduct.

Release of the spacecraft by the station’s robotic arm will begin the Dragon’s return to Earth carrying more than 3,100 pounds of NASA cargo and science samples from human research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities sponsored by NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, the nonprofit organization responsible for managing research aboard the U.S. national laboratory portion of the space station.

The capsule is currently scheduled to splashdown in the Pacific Ocean about 12:42 p.m., approximately 155 miles southwest of Long Beach, California.

Station to Raise Orbit before June Expedition 43 Undocking

Astronaut Terry Virts and Scott Kelly
Astronaut Terry Virts and Scott Kelly were inside the Quest airlock Friday morning talking to reporters from The Weather Channel and Time Magazine . Credit: NASA TV

The six-member Expedition 43 crew ends its work week with a wide variety of science exploring life in space benefiting both crews in space and humans on Earth. Meanwhile, one space freighter is preparing to fire its thrusters to lift the station’s orbit as another is being packed and readied for splashdown.

One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko participated in the Fine Motor Skills experiment which monitors different phases of a crew member’s microgravity adaptation and recovery back on Earth. Commander Terry Virts took samples of air and surface microbes for the Microbial Observatory-1 study which will be analyzed by scientists on the ground.

Samantha Cristoforetti studied the physics of where fluids and gases meet in Japan’s Kibo lab module. Flight Engineer Gennady Padalka worked on video gear and tested magnetometers in the station’s Russian segment. Flight Engineer Anton Shkaplerov studied chemical reactions in the Earth’s atmosphere, checked Russian docking systems and photographed windows in the Pirs and Poisk modules.

The ISS Progress 58 resupply ship docked to the Zvezda service module will fire its engines Friday night. The orbital boost will place the International Space Station at the correct altitude for the undocking of Expedition 43 in early June. The SpaceX Dragon loaded with science and gear will be released from the grips of the Canadarm2 May 21 at 7:05 a.m. EDT for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean a few hours later.

Visiting Vehicle Activities and Maintenance Keep Crew Busy

Astronauts Scott Kelly and Terry Virts
ISS043E181459 (05/07/2015) — NASA astronauts Scott Kelly (left) and Terry Virts (right) work on a Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA) inside the station’s Japanese Experiment Module.

Expedition 43 is packing the SpaceX Dragon space freighter readying the vehicle for its return home and splashdown May 21. The docked ISS Progress 58 resupply ship will fire its thrusters Friday night placing the International Space Station at the correct orbit for next month’s Soyuz undocking.

The six-member crew also worked a variety of onboard maintenance ensuring crew safety and the upkeep of station hardware. One-Year crew member Scott Kelly worked on science gear in Japan’s Kibo lab module. Commander Terry Virts worked on replacing a Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly blower fan. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti routed cables and configured valves to prepare the Permanent Multipurpose Module for its relocation later this month.

On the Russian side of the orbital lab, Flight Engineer Anton Shkaplerov photographed the condition of the Zvezda service module windows. Flight Engineer Gennady Padalka partnered up with One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko to study acoustic techniques for immediately locating micrometeoroid impacts on the station’s exterior. The trio also continued the maintenance of the Russian station systems.

The return to Earth for NASA’s Terry Virts, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov now is scheduled for early June. NASA and its international partners set the schedule after hearing the Russian Federal Space Agency’s (Roscosmos) findings on the loss of the Progress 59 cargo craft. The exact date has not yet been established and will be announced in the coming weeks.

Landing Delayed, Life Science and Dragon Packing for Expedition 43

Samantha Cristoforetti
ISS043E160082 (05/03/2015) — ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti enjoys her first drink from the new ISSpresso machine. The espresso device allows crews to make tea, coffee, broth, or other hot beverages they might enjoy.

The return to Earth for NASA’s Terry Virts, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov now is scheduled for early June. NASA and its international partners set the schedule after hearing the Russian Federal Space Agency’s (Roscosmos) findings on the loss of the Progress 59 cargo craft. The exact date has not yet been established and will be announced in the coming weeks.

Full Release

The six-member Expedition 43 crew worked Tuesday on a wide variety of tasks. The International Space Station residents explored life sciences, trained for a robotics experiment, conducted maintenance and prepared for next week’s departure of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft.

Astronaut Scott Kelly worked on an experiment which observes how a crew member’s fine motor skills adapt over a six-month and a year-long mission in space. He then moved on to training for the Robotics Refueling Mission.

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti worked on the Rodent Research experiment during the afternoon. Commander Terry Virts worked on cargo transfers to the Dragon space freighter which is getting ready for its May 21 departure and splashdown.

The three cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko, worked in the Russian segment. The trio cleaned dust filters, changed out a smoke detector and downloaded results from a microbial air sampling.

Crew Begins Week With Science and Samples For Dragon Return

Kelly captures image of storm clouds
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly captured this image of storm clouds that moved across the American Midwest on May 10, 2015.

The crew of Expedition 43 spent much of the day on Monday working on experiments that will be coming home on SpaceX’s Dragon vehicle later this month.

NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Terry Virts studied the effects of microgravity on living organisms for the Rodent Research experiment. They are looking at mice and how their body systems change in space. The results may promote the development of new drugs tackling the effects of aging and disease on Earth.

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti configured one of the station’s Microgravity Experiment Research Locker Incubators (MERLIN) for return on Dragon. She also transferred a number of other items into the unmanned cargo craft. Dragon is scheduled to depart the space station on May 21.

Maintenance and Departure Preps Continue on Wednesday

Terry Virts Haircuts
NASA astronaut Terry Virts (center) shared this image after giving two of his Russian crew mates new zero-g haircuts.

Maintenance and experiment work continued on Wednesday for the Expedition 43 crew.

NASA astronaut Terry Virt spent the second consecutive day replacing components inside one of the station’s Carbon Dioxide Removal Assemblies (CDRA.) The CDRA system works to remove carbon dioxide from the cabin air, allowing for an environmentally safe crew cabin. Virts also did some preparatory work on a payload rack for a cellular biology experiment scheduled to launch on the next SpaceX mission.

One-Year crew member Scott Kelly participated in the Fine Motor Skills study and took some time out of his schedule to speak with the “Today Show” and his twin brother Mark Kelly.

Watch Scott Kelly talk to the “Today Show”

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti continued the Triplelux-A experiment which aims to gain a better understanding of immune suppression in spaceflight. She also Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov in a checkout of the Sokol launch and entry suits that she, Shkaplerov and Virts will wear when they return to Earth next week.

Robotics, Skin Studies and Moon Imagery Kick Off Crew Week

NASA astronaut Terry Virts of Expedition 43 on the International Space Station checks the remote control Canadarm2 on Apr.26, 2015. The Canadarm2 is used to grapple arriving spacecraft and moving them to their docking ports.

Monday began a new week of science and maintenance work for the Expedition 43 crew.

NASA astronauts Terry Virts and Scott Kelly spent the day reviewing procedures and gathering equipment for an upcoming replacement activity with one of the station’s Carbon Dioxide Removal Assemblies (CDRA.) The CDRA system works to remove carbon dioxide from the cabin air, allowing for an environmentally safe crew cabin.

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti participated in the Skin-B experiment which will improve our understanding of skin aging, which is greatly accelerated in space, while also providing insight into the aging process of other similar bodily tissues. She also took photos for the Moon imagery study.

Robotics controllers in Houston continued operations with the Robotic Refueling Mission-2 (RRM-2) payload. Using the Canadarm2 robotic arm,  to install the new task boards that will be used for the experiment. The objective of RRM-2 is to develop new technologies, tools and techniques that could eventually give satellite owners resources to diagnose problems on orbit and keep certain spacecraft instruments performing longer in space.

Robotic Refueling and More Today on Station

Canadarm2 and Dextre
ISS041-E-049091 (30 Sept. 2014) — The International Space Station’s Canadarm2 and Dextre, also known as the Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator (SPDM)

Station astronauts continued preparing for the next round of robotic refueling demonstrations while conducting various biomedical experiments and checkouts.

Expedition 43 commander Terry Virts worked with ground teams to prepare the airlock in the Japanese Experiment Module and extend the slide table carrying the new Robotic Refueling Mission-2 (RRM-2) hardware. Robotics controllers on the ground then used the Canadarm2 robotic arm to install the new task boards that will be used for the experiment. The objective of RRM-2 is to develop new technologies, tools and techniques that could eventually give satellite owners resources to diagnose problems on orbit and keep certain spacecraft instruments performing longer in space.

The crew is also engaging in the Cardio Ox experiment, the Space Aging study and the Body Measures experiment. More Rodent Research work took place, as the astronauts readied samples for return to Earth and checked out the rodents’ habitat.

Meanwhile, Russian ballistics specialists continue to work calculations to identify the most likely period for Progress 59’s entry back into the Earth’s atmosphere. The unmanned cargo craft experienced an unspecified problem shortly after separating from the third launch stage on April 28, resulting in the vehicle’s docking to the station being called off.

Science Continues on the International Space Station

One-Year crew speaks to reporters
One-Year crew members Scott Kelly (left) and Mikhail Kornienko (right) took a few minutes out of their day to speak to media. Credit: NASA

The Expedition 43 crew continued their work on Wednesday with a variety of research and technology demonstration activities.

NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Terry Virts studied the effects of microgravity on living organisms for the Rodent Research experiment. They are looking at mice and how their body systems change in space. The results may promote the development of new drugs tackling the effects of aging and disease on Earth.

Meanwhile, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti continued operations with the Triplelux-A experiment and adjusted imaging equipment on the Electromagnetic Levitation study.

The crew was also notified in the morning that the planned docking of Progress 59 has been called off. Both the Russian and USOS segments of the station continue to operate normally and are adequately supplied well beyond the next planned resupply flight.

Russian flight controllers are continuing to assess the vehicle and what the plan going forward will be. More information will be provided as available.